Our March Challenge asked you to compose a piece that fit with your spirit animal. The winning score was produced by Brady Johnson - listen to it here, and read more about his composing journey and how he came up with the piece below.
Tell us a bit about yourself!
My name is Brady, I’m 17 years old, and am a high school junior from Louisville, Kentucky.
What’s your background with music?
I was brought into the world of music in the 6th grade when I had joined my school’s band class. I didn’t go into it thinking music would actually be a field where I’d invest my time and life. But after a year or two doing these small school programs, I had really gotten passionate about it, and I wanted to see if I could make a piece on my own. That’s how I discovered Flat.
How long ago did you join Flat's community?
I’ve been on the app for about 5 years.
You won last month’s challenge. Can you share your creative process for that beautiful piece?
There were a few different factors at play. If I had to pick, I think these were the two most important ones:
- I thought about how to get extra points for my score. That’s what led me to think about using irregular time signatures. In most of my other pieces, I’ve stuck to 4/4, 3/4, sometimes 5/4. For this challenge, I chose to use some other signatures like 7/8 and 5/8, stepping out of my comfort zone. Pushing myself to stray out of that safe boundary helped me develop a new skill in writing. Plus I was feeling at the beginning like it’d be impossible to get right, which made it all that more special and motivating to complete.
- I think of creating a score kind of like writing a book. Once I’d decided what my piece was going to sound like, I had to find a story of emotion I could use to describe my animal. I asked myself, “How does it feel in its environment?”, and most importantly, “What does its behavior *sound* like?” I brainstormed until I felt like I had a unique answer, and I used that to identify the specific techniques and styles of writing to use for the overall score.
What advice would you give to composers joining the challenges?
There are lots of times when you come up with an idea for a composition and get excited about it, then when finally writing it you can get discouraged with the outcome, how it sounds different from what you had in your head. This is completely normal. I can promise that the only problem keeping it from sounding amazing is that it’s missing something small. You’ve already done the hardest part of the creative project. Now all it needs is some trial-and-error and a little brainstorming to see what works well. You’ll be amazed with the results if you continue to motivate yourself to perfect your piece, working until you are fully content with it. You’ll end up feeling like you accomplished what you originally set out to do.
Congratulations to Brady, and a big thank you to all of our contest participants. If you’re feeling inspired and want to join April’s challenge, it’s now live!
See you next time,